Taking yourself seriously doesn’t mean you have to be serious.


I always had this idea that if I took myself seriously as a business woman, author, speaker, and what have you, I would have to stop having fun with my work.

So I prided myself on not taking myself too seriously.

It made me more approachable. It made me more likeable.

And, if I’m being honest (which I always am), it made me stay smaller than I was capable of.

Here are some of the ways not taking myself seriously would show up:

  • Turning mic drop moments into sorority girl moments by giggling a little after my most poignant points during a speaking gig.
  • Downplaying my work by telling new people I meet that I’m a blogger, or that I sell vitamins, or that I’m an internet marketer. (While all of these things are true, they’re miniscule versions of the truth.)
  • Not putting the systems in place in our business to ensure accuracy and quality in our communication to our customers (like the three emails I sent in one day with the wrong time for a webinar because I couldn’t slow down long enough to figure out the time zones).
  • Moving too fast so that the quality of my work suffered. (Yes, done is better than perfect. And done is sometimes even better than good. But repeatedly putting out work with errors is plain amateur.)

I’d convinced myself that I wasn’t taking myself seriously because I didn’t want to take the fun out of business. But the truth was I wasn’t taking myself seriously because I was afraid if I did that people wouldn’t like me.

After a particularly humiliating series of emails with errors went out to our entire community, I realized it was time to make a change.

Stephen Pressfield talks about the turning pro moment in his book by the same name. He says everyone who’s a pro remembers the moment they made the shift.

I decided this was my moment. It was time to take myself and my business seriously. No, it didn’t mean sucking the fun out of business. It meant having the courage to do my best work despite my fear of being less likeable because of it.

So Mike and I popped Penelope in the stroller and went down to the beach. I drew a line in the sand with the toe of my boot (it was February) and spoke about turning pro, being unafraid to shine, and taking ourselves and our business seriously.

And then we held hands and crossed over the line in the sand.

It was time to turn pro, so we did.

Taking myself seriously doesn’t mean not making any more mistakes. It doesn’t mean being perfect. It doesn’t mean having it all together.

But it does mean taking my foot off the break when my intention is to accelerate.

It does mean putting a lid on my knee jerk self-deprecation and downplaying.

It does mean expressing something with gravitas and then shutting up to let it land.

Taking yourself seriously doesn’t mean you have to be serious. {Tweet it.} Taking yourself seriously doesn’t mean you have to be serious-tweet

We can still have fun while having the courage to bring our best selves to the table.

Perhaps you’ve heard one of my favorite quotes:

Anything worth taking seriously is worth making fun of. ~Tom Lehrer {Tweet it.} Anything worth taking seriously is worth making fun of-tweet

I used to think that meant laughing off my accomplishments and being okay with putting in 80% effort instead of 100%.

But now I realize it was simply a cover-up for a good, old-fashioned fear of success.

I figured out that I didn’t have to choose between being a professional and enjoying the hell out of running a business.

True masters know how to take themselves seriously while having fun in the process.

I’m having a ball on the other side of that line in the sand, aligning myself with the following intention:

May I bring my best self to the table in my business and my life. May I have the courage to shine, regardless of whom that might make uncomfortable (including myself). May I operate as a total pro and also have tons of fun while I do it. May my willingness to step into my version of greatness while being able to make fun of the process inspire others to do the same.

If you like this intention, feel free to join me in intending it for yourself.

The thing is, having fun isn’t just for kids and it’s not just for amateurs. It’s for all of us.

And valuing our power and contribution isn’t only for professionals. It’s for anyone doing anything worth doing.

So let’s not let our fun preclude us from doing things that matter. And let’s not let valuing ourselves and our work preclude us from having fun.

We can have it all when it comes to being powerful and having a good time doing it.



Have you ever noticed yourself dimming your light in order to be more likeable instead of really going for it? Have you had a “turning pro” moment? Tell me about it in the comments – I’d love to hear about your experience!


  • Bev Pyke

    Love this Kate as well as every email you send, reading your journey is like parts of everyone’s journey rolled into one beautiful blog no matter your age! You got it going on girl! There is nothing like becoming a mother to shine the light on your best self! Keep Shining your light lighthouse❣

  • Bev Pyke

    P.S just want to add I LOVE your vulnerablily as Brene Brown says “Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage”. So thank you for being so raw and vulnerable during this new phase of your life❣❤️❤️❤️❤️

  • This is so perfect Kate, it totally reflects where I am today. Taking myself and my contribution seriously. Really believing in what I have to offer and having the courage to take it out there and show it to the world. Thank you, I love such synchronicity when it happens. It makes feel that the Universe has my back!

    • Kate Northrup

      The universe definitely does have your back and I’m happy to be part of the delivery system for that!

  • Kate!!!! I love your honesty and so mirror EVERYTHING you said. I’m not going to tweet it (i’m not on twitter), but I am going to post it in my business coaching group’s FB page right after I write to you. I’m sooooo happy to be connected to you and Mike. I look forward to your reading posts every week – you always boost me up with your honesty, authenticity and keeping sh*t REAL. I appreciate you and can’t wait to meet you in person on July 30th.

    • Kate Northrup

      Thank you Talya – I really appreciate you sharing it and everything you said. And I’m so excited to meet you in person July 30th!

  • Kate, I love this intention! Especially because I catch myself doing this exact thing (putting myself down/belittling my efforts) just so I don’t make others uncomfortable or so I don’t seem unlikable! No more holding myself in the back of the room! Thank you. Your posts are so real and I love reading them.

    • Kate Northrup

      So glad this resonates with you. I always figure that if I’m experiencing something other people must be too because I’m not that special :)

  • Cat

    I really needed this one today. My biggest sticking point has always been worrying that I didn’t “have permission” to do what I wanted. Perhaps it’s residue from a restrictive childhood,but I’m almost 40 for bleep’s sake!!
    I hereby give myself permission to leap into the spotlight I’ve always craved!!

  • Wow. This really rang a bell with me. Thank you.

  • I have always tried to be the invisible child, guessing how others wanted me to Be – so that I could get it right – for Them! Putting myself second was a habit, making myself small to go under the radar. Problem with guessing, is that you never get it right! :) so now I just get it right for Me! It still can be scarey and isolating when youre being brave enough to be different – but now its a non-negotiable for me. I am pushing through it to have Fun! creating a new habit!!

  • WOW

    I recently had a professional acquaintance say “I didn’t realize you were so silly, so much fun…you’ve always been so polished” Hmmm! I have a fantastic sense of humour and a big goofy self, that shines through in every other area of my life. Why am I so darned scared in the professional world to share my sense of humour…won’t it make it easier for others to be themselves?

    I’m stepping over that line, right with you Kate! Thanks for your courage and honesty.

    on with the gravitas, and sparkle.

    Simply Ceremony

  • I read all your posts, Kate, but this one particularly stopped me in my tracks. The downplaying of my roles and titles has been a tough one to get over and get to the other side where I don’t minimize my being a serial entrepreneur. The other thing I’ve tended to do is avoid the title, ‘Life Coach,’ hoping to avoid anyone’s judgements. This post has thrown in my face what I have to do. Thanks so much for sharing this and doing what you do!

  • Leslie

    We are on the same wavelength Kate – so divine!! I am in the midst of “turning pro” myself as I really embrace how the spiritual – the mystical/magical and the divine – are the core value/alignment from which my business flows. I too have realized my embarrassment when I share my wisdom – the giggle. etc – and it is now time to embrace the power that is this wisdom and have fun too!! I really appreciate Doreen Virtue – she is so aligned with the mystical and SO POWERFUL!!
    Thanks for reminding me the we can have it all when it comes to being powerful and authentic and have fun doing it!! xoxo

  • Oh, Kate, this resonates so much. I struggle with this all the time and realized recently that I treat my business like a hobby, doing things when the mood strikes or when everything else (laundry, travel plans, work for other people) has been finished. I love that you physically stepped over the line in the sand – I may have to try that. Thanks for sharing your ever-inspiring journey so openly.

  • Thanks so much – I feel like this is happening right now with me too. I run this great business and at 3 years I’m just now looking at the structure and evaluating what works and what is a mess! When I started the yoga studio I was doing everything by the seat of my pants and by myself. Now as we are growing I need to streamline my administrative tasks and electronic structures. I have hired an executive assistant to analyze how the business functions and to help me create a machine that can run more smoothly. For me being serious about my business means teaching less, running around less – so that I can study with senior teachers more and devote more time to my own yoga practice. Thanks for reminding me that this growing-up period is worthwhile. With kindness and respect, Amy

  • Waou it’s so true ! Thank you for sharing your story … It makes me remember someone …guess how ? .. ME !

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